The Audition in Colour

Sonia Boyce (1962 - )

75 prints on Fuji Crystal Archive paper under Matte Acrylic Glass


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© Sonia Boyce. All rights reserved, DACS 2022.

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  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    The Audition in Colour by Sonia Boyce is the result of a participatory project on 17 November 1997 at Cornerhouse Arts Centre (now called HOME) – while Artist-in-Residence at the University of Manchester. In one day, 900 photographs were taken of volunteers who had answered a public advert inviting participants to try on an Afro wig. 

    Everyone who took part was photographed with and without the wig, in both black and white and colour analogue film. The resulting black and white photographs were later printed to form a separate installation, The Audition (1997, printed 2018) which is now in the Tate collection. The Audition in Colour, comprises a selection of the colour images shot that day in 1997.

    Boyce’s work captures the performative aspect of the project. By inviting participants to wear the wig, she opened up a space for each person to experience the state of an imagined 'otherness', providing an opportunity for discussion, and an exploration of how our perception of others’ identities can be (mis)shaped or (mis)understood, based solely on visual appearance.

    From the early to mid-1980s, Boyce’s practice focused on large-scale oil pastel drawings, many of which were semi-autobiographical, exploring narratives related to, and reflective of, her experience as a Black woman of Caribbean heritage living in Britain. After this period, her practice shifted away towards a more varied use of media including photography, montage, colour photocopying, performance and installation - media that allowed a new approach to collaborative working with others, either communities or groups.

  • About the artist
    Sonia Boyce MBE is a British Afro-Caribbean artist who lives and works in London. While studying at Stourbridge College of Art from 1980-83, she met and collaborated with artists from the BLK Art Group (Keith Piper, Donald Rodney, Marlene Smith and Eddie Chambers), an informal but highly influential group who organised and promoted exhibitions and events that addressed the experience of Black communities in Britain. Boyce’s early work, primarily large pastel drawings and photographic collages, addressed issues of race and gender in the media and of daily life. In the late 1980s, Boyce incorporated a wider use of media in her work, including photography, collage, film, print, drawing, installation and sound. This shift also involved greater collaborative participation with audiences and communities, placing more emphasis on the art resulting from these collaborations. Boyce has exhibited her work extensively both in the UK and internationally. Key exhibitions include 'Five Black Women', African Centre, London (1983); 'Sonia Boyce: For you, only you', Magdalen College, Oxford and subsequent UK venues (2007–08); and at 'All the World’s Futures', 56th Venice Biennale (2015). In 2007, Boyce was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the arts. She is currently Professor of Fine Arts at Middlesex University, London and Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London. Boyce will represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale, for the 59th International Art Exhibition in 2022, the first Black British woman to have achieved this honour.
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  • Details
    The Audition in Colour
    One of an edition of 3 (number unknown)
    75 prints on Fuji Crystal Archive paper under Matte Acrylic Glass
    dimensions variable
    Purchased from Goodman Gallery, with funds raised from print sales from the Robson Orr TenTen Award, a GAC/Outset Annual Commission, February 2021
    Goodman Gallery; from whom purchased by UK Government Art Collection,
    GAC number